University of Saskatchewan looks to tackle food waste with food dehydrator

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WATCH: Joel Senick looks at how the dehydrator will help mitigate thousands of pounds of food waste weekly.

Officials at the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) are hoping a food dehydrator will turn roughly 2,500 pounds of weekly food waste into a nutrient rich material that can be added to its compost mixture.

The university has installed the new machine to serve its Marquis Hall dining facility, which serves roughly 2,000 meals daily. The machine heats and chews up everything from chicken bones to napkins, to produce a brown soil-like material that will enrich the university’s compost mixtures.

“This product is so rich in nitrogen and phosphorus and calcium,” U of S grounds manager Gift Marufu said in an interview on Thursday.

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Marufu spearheaded the project and said the U of S is the first Canadian university to use the equipment. The machine cannot work in the cold, however at the U of S it lies in a garage beside a disposal bin, where culinary services executive chef James McFarland said most of the food waste used to end up.

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“Now all of our food waste will be composted and in turn put back in the university grounds,” McFarland said.

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Marufu said the goal is to eventually have similar machines serving other dining facilities on campus. Naomi Mihilewicz with the Saskatchewan Waste Reduction Council said the effort could spread even off of campus.

“Large institutions often sort of set the standard for smaller institutions or other businesses and they can kind of lead the way in progressive technologies,” Mihilewicz said.

“When institutions that have funding to do this ad try these techniques out, they’ll often work out a lot of the kinks in doing something like this.”

The equipment was installed at the U of S in late February. Marufu said the project will be reviewed in six months.